World Cup issues – a procurement solution

Reading the revelations in the Sunday Times about the award of the World Cup to Qatar, I remembered writing a piece about it some time ago. On checking, I was amazed to see it was way back in October 2010! So I think we're justified in re-publishing it today - it's perhaps even more relevant as we get deeper into the whole affair. (I have also added a few words here and there).

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Dear Mr Blatter

The allegations of bribery around voting for the World Cup are unwelcome and serious.  So it would seem to be an appropriate time to look at how FIFA might apply the principles of good procurement practice to the venue selection process?   Practices used by the public sector are particularly appropriate, although in truth the principles are also applied by the best private sector firms.

Those principles are openness, transparency, honesty and fairness, and they are applied every day by organisations in order to select the best suppliers to provide them with goods and services.

I would suggest that FIFA should introduce a clear and publicly disclosed  selection process, using defined evaluation criteria (which could be weighted and broken down into sub-criteria).  Venues would make their proposals, which could include site visits and so on, and national delegates, who could still be the decision makers, would score bidders in a transparent manner against the criteria.   Scores would need to be justified with as much objective evidence as possible, and a proper audit trail of the decision process maintained.  Scores could be moderated to give a single consensus set of scores; or delegates’ individual scores could simply be aggregated or averaged; both options are workable.

Technology exists to assist the process; there are many software and solutions providers (BravoSolution, Vortal, Proactis, and others) who have considerable experience of helping Government clients in many countries run complex procurement processes.  Qinetiq Commerce Decisions provide solutions for particularly complex programmes and evaluations, so that might be a useful additional tool. Using the appropriate software would help delegates through the evaluation, and enable you to demonstrate the transparency and fairness of the process.

Finally, it is good practice for all staff engaged in major procurement decisions to sign up to a code of behaviour, perhaps the CIPS ethical code, which forbids gifts, describes what level of hospitality is allowable, and covers conflicts or interests and other issues that may work against fair competition.  That should be applied to your delegates, or whoever forms the selection panel.

This would not be difficult, expensive or time consuming to implement; and it would bring considerable public confidence back to the selection process.  I would be delighted to discuss further at your convenience.

Yours sincerely

Peter Smith

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